Fritz A. Kaenzig, professor of music at the School of Music, Theatre & Dance, has been honored for outstanding contributions to undergraduate education as a recipient of this year's Arthur F. Thurnau professorship. The appointment, approved on February 21, 2013 by the Board of Regents, is a title that he will retain throughout his career at the University.
Kaenzig was chosen for maintaining the highest standards of teaching while inspiring colleagues and students. A recipient of the 1999 Harold Haugh Award for excellence in studio teaching, his tuba/euphonium studio is acknowledged as the finest in the country. Many of his former students serve as professors at major schools of music or play in the world's top orchestras, including Carol Jantsch, the first woman ever to hold a principal tuba chair in a major American orchestra, the Philadelphia Orchestra.
In the classroom, Kaenzig fosters a culture of responsibility, accountability, camaraderie, respectful competition, and mutual support. Students describe his charismatic teaching as "sheer magic" and a "rejuvenating balance of substance and inspiration."
Each year Thurnau professorships recognize and reward a select group of tenured faculty members for their outstanding contributions to undergraduate education. Criteria for the award include a strong commitment to students and to teaching and learning, excellence in teaching, innovation in teaching and learning, a strong commitment to working effectively with a diverse student body, and a demonstrable impact on students' intellectual or artistic development.
The professorships are named after alumnus Arthur F. Thurnau and supported by the Thurnau Charitable Trust, which was established through his will. Recipients receive $20,000 to support teaching activities, including travel, books, equipment, and graduate student support.
Kaenzig is one of six U-M faculty members to receive Thurnau professorships this year. The others are Samuel D. Epstein, professor of linguistics (LSA); Martha S. Jones, associate professor of history and associate chair of the Department of Afroamerican and African Studies (LSA); Janie C. Paul, professor of art (Penny W. Stamps School of Art & Design); Volker Sick. associate vice president for research, natural sciences, and engineering, Office of the Vice President for Research, and professor of mechanical engineering (College of Engineering); and L. Monique Ward, professor of psychology (LSA).